For those of us rethinking education, more and more tools are becoming available for advancing our learning. Coursera and Udacity are just two examples of how online courses are making higher education available to all, for free. Further, anyone taking these free courses who can demonstrate mastery, can get a certificate of completion. (Fast Company, How Coursera, A Free Online Education Service, Will School Us All, by Anya Kamanetz, August 8, 2012)
Starting with MIT's OpenCourseware in 2001, universities have increasingly seen the provision of such resources as an essential part of their public mission. Indeed, hundreds of millions of people have viewed lectures from top universities for free online in the past 10 years. But until now, these resources have been passive, like Wikipedia. They haven't been organized and sequenced for active learning or paired with social media tools. More crucially, they haven't been offered with certification. That's beginning to change, says Chow, as for the first time traditional universities offering online courses will certify that students have mastered the contents.
For unschoolers or non-schoolers, life-learners and autodidacts, and those seeking to un-college, this is a very big deal. These courses have the potential to provide huge opportunities in learning, skill-building and mastery. With or without certification, the experiences these courses can provide can make all the difference when seeking career opportunities as employers increasingly embrace competency-based learning in a constantly changing, technologically innovative world.
"In my job interview, I don't think it was, 'Oh, you took the class, you get the job.' It was more that I'd learned enough to have a conversation and seem like I knew what I was talking about." - Fast Company
Free Online Courses
The Minerva Project